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The Lost Squadron (1932)

Passed  -  Drama | History | War  -  12 March 1932 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 354 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 9 critic

Three World War I fighter pilots manage to land jobs in hard times just after the war as Hollywood stunt fliers working for the dictatorial director von Furst.



(from the story by), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Title: The Lost Squadron (1932)

The Lost Squadron (1932) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Complete credited cast:
Robert Armstrong ...
The Pest
Von Furst (as Erich Von Stroheim)
Ralph Ince ...
Marjorie Peterson ...
Ralph Lewis ...
William B. Davidson ...
Lelewer (as William Davidson)


Three World War I fighter pilots manage to land jobs in hard times just after the war as Hollywood stunt fliers working for the dictatorial director von Furst.

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Drama | History | War


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 March 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Lost Squadron  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.19 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Pat O'Brien was originally set to star in the film, only to be replaced by Richard Dix. See more »


At the start, during the aerial dog fight, the front aiming machine guns fire too quickly for the bullets to pass through the propellers. See more »


Edited into I'm King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (2005) See more »


El Capitan
(1896) (uncredited)
Music by John Philip Sousa
Background music for marching soldiers
See more »

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User Reviews

Where love of heroics should not be confused with heroic love.
4 October 2012 | by (Brisbane, Australia) – See all my reviews

This film is an entertaining and well-produced drama about the lingering effects of war, about lost love and betrayal, and about self-sacrifice. Nineteen-thirty-two was the year before Robert Armstrong went on to bigger things with King Kong (1933), and nine years before Mary Astor played the role of femme fatale again in The Maltese Falcon (1941).

Also appearing are Joel McCrea – on his way to be a star of the western genre – and Richard Dix, a well-known star of the silent screen who successfully continued in films when sound came to the movies. Capping such a stellar line-up is Erich von Stroheim, the actor-director appearing as Von Furst, the dictatorial film director everybody loved to hate.

Mixing the camaraderie of The Three Musketeers (1921) with the romantic heroics of Beau Geste (1926), the story follows three ex-air force fliers (Armstrong as Woody, Dix as Gibson and McCrea as Red) cashiered at the end WW1 and who wind up at Hollywood as stunt men for war/action movies produced and directed by a menacing Von Furst. The three friends call themselves part of The Lost Squadron, in memory of those who gave their lives in France; and each is looking for fame and fortune. And, why not?

Gibson, though, is looking for more: having been rejected by his former girl friend, the film star Follette Marsh (Mary Astor), he forms what seems to be a mutually promising attachment to The Pest (Dorothy Jordan), Woody's sister. At the same time, Follette – now married to Von Furst in a typical Hollywood union – gives the impression she is flirting with Gibson; so much so, Von Furst makes it clear he wouldn't be unhappy if Gibson was injured or killed during any one of the stunts in the air. Personal tensions mount; relationships begin to sour; trust is inevitably eroded between Von Hurst on the one hand, and Gibson and his buddies, Red and Woody, on the other.

Gibson, all the while, tries to maintain a sense of honor and decorum. But, his efforts to dispel Von Furst's jealous rage are in vain. Matters come to a head when Gibson is once again rejected in love by The Pest who favors Red, sending Gibson into quiet, controlled despair; at the same time, Von Furst's insane jealousy results in tragedy for all of the friends, setting the stage for a plan to exact revenge upon Von Furst. The denouement, although highly contrived, is nevertheless in the finest tradition Wren's classic story of the Foreign Legion.

Overall, while the sound was scratchy at times, the cinematography, editing and direction are up to the mark. Of the actors, von Stroheim towers over them all with the intensity of his presence; while Dorothy Jordan overshadows Mary Astor, for sure – no mean feat, I think. The dialog is particularly good for the first and second acts; only during the final act does the script seem to fall into a deep, unbelievable hole. Still, the final scenes make up for those shortcomings, in my opinion.

Of further interest is the fact that this is very much a self-referential – perhaps even self-parody – film about Tinsel Town with much of the action being directed by Von Furst as we look on, thus giving the viewer a look at how things were done back in the thirties and hence allowing for some occasional, comic relief. Special mention goes to the aerial stunts and battle scenes.

Von Strohiem, of course, went on to star in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950) where he again played the part of a film director, but reduced to working as a chauffeur for Gloria Swanson and her part-time gigolo, William Holden.

The Lost Squadron is not a great movie, but it is well worth watching; and it's suitable for all to see. Give this a solid seven out of ten.

October 3, 2012

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